Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Collage painting

"Still Life in Blue & Gold", collage and acrylic, 16 x 16"
I finally finished this collage painting, which I began a year ago but didn't quite know what to do with it to complete it. Sometimes working from chaos to order is like that. I began the painting with a random application of hand dyed and patterned tissue papers. Then I stared at it for a long time, rotating it often to see if I could 'see' something in it which would tell me how to proceed. The shape on the middle right looked like a tea cup, so I decided to make a still life out of it. With that idea in mind, the basket of fruit, vase of flowers and other items could be found and brought out by painting in acrylic. I decided to divide the painting to keep the abstract feeling. This is a nod to one of my favorite watercolour painters Shirley Trevena. I have just ordered her new DVD -can't wait for more of her wonderful work.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another New Step by Step Watercolour Demo

This is another flower demo in watercolours, done in the same style as the one I posted yesterday. This one was done for my Wed. morning class and the flower is Cosmos.
Step 1: begin with the main flower shapes on dry paper. Remember to puddle the colour and let them mix together on their own. For this step I used combinations of Azo Yellow, Gamboge Hue, Quinacridone Rose, Scarlet Lake and Ultramarine Blue (all M Graham watercolours, except the Scarlet Lake which is Winsor Newton).
Step 2: begin to puddle in colours for the background, making sure to puddle in some of the flower colour. Keep this stage fairly light at this point. When you cut around the flowers, you can soften the interactions with the flower edges in places. This is still done on dry paper using juicy wet paint.
Step 3: finish the first layer on the background. I splashed some water droplets into the damp background washes to make some blossoms for texture. At this point, the background has 'caught up' to the foreground, so it is now time to go back into the main flowers to pull them up from the background.
Step 4: The main flowers now have more colour and detail than the background. Make sure not to cover up all of the original washes on the flowers to keep the colour bright.
Step 5: Go back into the background and begin painting both negatively and positively to form the middle ground elements of flowers and leaves. To do this I used darker combinations of Azo Yellow, Phalo blue and Ultramarine blue as well as some of the previous flower colours on the found flowers.
Step 6: Continue to paint in the background to increase complexity. At this point mark making becomes very important, as I merely painted in the suggestion of things that will read as folliage. I let the blue cross the painting in a diagonal from upper right to lower left to counteract the diagonal of the flowers which move from upper left to lower right.
"Cosmos", 7 x 11", watercolour -A bit more tweeking of colour, shape and value and the painting is complete.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Step by Step Watercolour Demo

This is a new demo that I did for my Tuesday night class.
Step 1:
I began this by drawing the 3 central poppies only. Then I puddled azo yellow, gamboge hue, napthol red lt, and quinacridone rose for the petals and added some ultramarine blue and rose for the centers. When this was dry, I painted in the background colours working very wetly on dry paper so that the colours would flow and mingle and still be strong colours -if you prewet the paper, the colour gets diluted. I made sure to put some flower colour into the background so that I could 'find' some flowers there later.
After the background was dry, I went back into the main flowers and added a bunch of pure, strong colour, to bring them forward from the background. In doing this I could give them a 3D look.
Then it was back into the background again. I found flowers there, working both positively (painting the flower shapes) and negatively (painting around the flower/leaf/bud shapes). I used darker versions of the colours that were already on the paper for this.
"Poppies Return", watercolour, 10 x 7"
This is the final painting. I went back into the main flowers once more, mostly concentrating on the detail in the centers. Then I went back into the background negatively a couple more times to find more leaves and stems and give the painting more depth. I also painted some positive forms of leaves and grasses, and did some more painting to bring out the found flowers in the background, as well as lifting some shapes from the dried washes. I really like the way this turned out. It is colourful and fresh, which is what I was aiming for.

Calyx is Coming!

Hi all: This weekend is the fabulous spring showing at Calyx Distinctive Arts. This is a one of a kind show filled with fine art and fine craft. It is a feast for the eyes and an inspiration for the soul, especially the creative heart. I will be showing at Calyx on SUNDAY ONLY this year, as there is an entirely different show each day. I will have over 50 pieces of art there, including framed oils and mixed media work, and smaller matted works. You can check it out at the Calyx website. Hope to see you there!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mixed Media/Collage Workshop

This weekend I had the pleasure of teaching a collage workshop to a lovely group at the Parkdale Nifty Fifties. Many of the artists are from the Bow Valley Calligraphy Club, some had little painting experience, while others were exhibiting artists. I love teaching this kind of workshop to such a diverse group, as each one has different insights to offer. We spent the first 1 1/2 days dying and decorating tissue to use for collage, and then spent the remaining 1 1/2 days making abstract paintings with the papers. No one really fully completed a painting in that time, but here are some very encouraging starts! (click the photo to see it larger)

This is one of my paintings that I did as a demo during the workshop. I really like this piece, and I think it is finished. I will have to live with it a while to be sure, but it is called "Expressions of a Long Awaited Spring", 12 x 12".
I will be teaching this workshop for Leading Edge Art Workshops in Winnipeg, MN on May 22-24 if anyone would like to see how much fun this really is.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Signs of Spring

I know that for some of you, spring has already sprung, but for us here in Calgary, there is a huge fight going on between winter and spring. Today it has been snowing a bit and the wind is bitter cold. Yesterday it was beautiful and in the high teens (deg C). I sure hope spring wins, and soon! This was my first sighting of a robin in the area, taken on the same day the Cedar Waxwings blew through. This robin was sitting in this tall evergreen, chirping wildly about the imposition of all those birds on 'his' territory.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Amazing sight

Hi all: Haven't posted for a while because I have been zonked! Jet-lag I suppose. Now I am doing my year end and the dreaded taxes. Makes me really want to go back to bed! One of the joys of being a professional artist is a mountainload of paperwork. I just calculated the mileage I put on my car for art purposes -a whopping 10,781.3Km - 1/3 of that was to go plein air painting and the rest to teach and do art show stuff. And buy art supplies of course, my favorite kind of shopping. Can't wait to get back out painting again; I am impatiently waiting for the trees to leaf out -just tired of brown, blue and white.
I saw an amazing thing yesterday. I was about to go for a walk with my sweetie and outside my back door there were about 400 to 500 Cedarwaxwings in my neighbors huge poplar tree. They flew in and out in flocks of about 50 birds, and the sound of their wings flapping was like the rush of the surf, incredible. I took this shot so I could prove it to you!
We must be right under their flight path as they aren't resident here, although I don't know where they came from or where they are going to -if anyone knows, please comment and tell me.
They landed on my mountain ash tree and within minutes whatever berries were left from the last time they were here were gone. Must be a bunch of drunk birds...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Home from Oz

Well, we are now home from Australia, and after sleeping for 16 hours, I hope that I will be able to return to functioning normally. What a shock to come home to a driveway full of snow after the hottish temps and humidity of Oz. This is the completion of my abstract start that I posted last week. I left it as a thank you gift for our wonderful hosts John and Maggie. I think it conveys some of the sights, sounds and flower colours I experienced, but as I look at it now I am astounded that there is not a drop of green in it, when all of Australia is covered in green.
Go figure!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reef Photos

Remember Nemo? Well we found where he was hiding. Such a blast to watch these guys swim in and around the colourful anenome. The colours under the water were amazing, they even rivaled the colours of the flowering trees, bushes and plants on land. This country was just 'made' to fill up your visual senses, not to mention your auditory ones. As I sit typing this blog entry, the windows are open and the sound of the birds in the trees is a symphony.
This is a bannerfish, and one of my favorite fish we swam with on the reef. The polka dotted fish beneath him is a wrasse I think. Unreal bright colours and patterns abound here, not only in the fish but in the corals as well. This reef trip was definitely a highlight of my life. If you are ever lucky enough to go on a reef trip, I would highly recommend New Horizon's sailing trip. You got to snorkel wherever and whenever you wanted, the crew was wonderful and very knowledgeable, and the food was scrumptous. The only negative was that the seas were rough with a wind of 20 to 25 knots, which meant that our constitutions were tested day and night. But we made out all right.